Parents often wonder if their older baby can be circumcised after one month of age.
While in the past, a circumcision on an older baby may have been a rare occurrence, new advancements make the procedure safe, effective, and with a low risk of complications. Read on to learn more about why the field of circumcision on older babies has changed and what you can do for your child.
Why Some Parents Delay Circumcision
Circumcisions are delayed for many reasons. Most commonly, the baby was born as a premature infant or had breathing problems that developed soon after delivery, requiring treatment in the newborn intensive care nursery. Likewise, feeding problems, low blood sugar, or jaundice treatment may postpone the circumcision. Or, perhaps your insurance company simply does not cover the costs of the procedure.
If the circumcision is not done in the first several weeks of life, scheduling it later may be difficult since most doctors are not trained to perform circumcisions after two weeks of age. In the past, parents had to wait until the baby was one year of age, at which time the procedure would be done under general (sleep) anesthesia. However, this option has additional financial challenges since the cost of general anesthesia, operating room, and recovery increases circumcision fees 10 to 30 times. Not to mention, parents are uncomfortable with the risks of general anesthesia.
Other concerns include pain management, risk of infection, and bleeding after circumcision in an older baby.
A New Choice in Circumcision for Older Babies
Gentle Circumcision has found great success performing older baby circumcisions since 2005 using local anesthesia.
Lidocaine is the anesthetic of choice and is administered in the fat (see diagram) ABOVE the penis similar to what may occur in the dentist’s office. The numbing is virtually instantaneous, taking effect in 10-20 seconds. The procedure lasts for approximately 15-20 minutes after which your baby receives alternating doses of infant Tylenol and infant Motrin for 24-36 hours. We have found older babies can be kept very comfortable on this medication program.
The risk of bleeding after circumcisions at any age is approximately two percent — that is, two cases in 100. Most of these cases involve very minor bleeding that usually is treated by simply applying pressure to the circumcision site. The infection risk is even smaller, reported at less than one percent (1 in 100 circumcisions).
With very limited studies done, it is difficult to determine if older babies have a greater risk of bleeding and infection. Our experience at Gentle Circumcision consists of performing approximately 500 cases per year or over 5000 circumcisions over the past 10 years involving older babies. We have found the rate of infection and bleeding to be very low and similar to the rates seen in newborn babies. We attribute this to our aftercare program that stresses a mandatory, no-cost follow-up visit to ensure trouble-free healing.
It’s Never Too Late for Child Circumcision
Some parents decide against circumcision when the baby is born, but medical issues arise later that make a circumcision desirable. Yeast infections or other hygiene issues are usually the reason, but there could be others. Unsightly foreskin appearance or inability to retract or pull it back for cleaning (phimosis) may make it necessary to remove it.
No matter what your reason, you have a right to do what you think is best for your baby. If you have decided on circumcision past the newborn period, it is vital to consult with a doctor who is experienced in circumcising older babies.
For more information, call or make an appointment with our specialists at 310-559-8000. You can also use our convenient contact form.